Digital Text

Sustainability and Stewardship: As Seen Through the Lens of the Adirondack Park, by Aaron Datro.

Description: A look at sustainability and stewardship through one of the last relatively untouched parks: the Adirondack Park. The picture book asks the question, who is entitled to use this natural place and for what devices?

Ecological Succession by Steve Coon

Ecological Succession
by Steve Coon
Ecological Succession


Science Verse

Posted by: Mark
Scieszka, J. (2004). Science Verse. New York: Penguin Group

Summary: This picture/poem book has some great short poems accompanied with artistic cartoons. Each poem covers a different topic in science, such as matter, evolution, the water cycle and black holes.

Favorite Part: (no page #’s)
What’s The Matter?
Miss Lucy had some matter.
She didn’t know its state.
She only had three choices,

Connection to Instruction: These poems are a great way to start off a new topic.

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • May appeal to a student more interested in poetry than science.

Some of the poems are indepth enough to begin a discussion on prior knowledge.

The Scientist’s Game

Written by: Lynda J. Jones
What causes this? What causes that?
Set up an experiment and be a cool cat.
Label all the var-i-a-bles, 1, 2, 3.
Hold one constant and study 2 and 3.
When you change 2, what happens to 3?
I said, when you change 2,
what happens to 3?
This is how we solve it scientifically.
Does it rise? Does it fall?
Does it stay the same?
This is how we play the scientist game.
Once you see a pattern,
Then you have to explain
Why all the changes happened
In the scientist game.
Do you know a theory
That accounts for all the facts?
Or will you write a new one
And lay some new tracks?
When you change 2, what happens to 3?
I said, when you change 2,
what happens to 3?
This is how we solve it scientifically.
It’s such a simple process
That we use it every day.
And in the world of science,
This is scientists’ play.
Posted by: Chris G
Summary: This song is sung as a rap that describes the parts of an experiment. Much of the song focuses on the variables and how a scientist must keep one constant and test the others in relation to that.
Favorite Part: Label all the var-i-a-bles, 1, 2, 3. Hold one constant and study 2 and 3. When you change 2, what happens to 3? I said, when you change 2, what happens to 3?
This is how we solve it scientifically. Does it rise? Does it fall? Does it stay the same? This is how we play the scientist game.” My students struggle with the idea of variables and I feel this opening portion provides another way to describe the concept.
Connection to Instruction: As part of the Nature of Science Unit, students explore experimental design and this song has a catchy beat that could help students better understand what variables are and how scientists conduct an experiment.
Literacy Strategy: I would have students read the lyrics and listen to the rap prior to constructing their own hypothetical experiments and identify variables.

Spectacular Science: A Book of Poems

Posted by: Chris
Bennett-Hopkins, L. (2002). Spectacular Science: A Book of Poems. Aladdin, New York.

Summary: This book has simple poems that help students begin to ponder the essential questions of science. The poems span a wide array of topics from genetics to magnetism.

Favorite Part: "So into the Earth, and into the sky, we question the how the when the where and the why." This quote is great because it captures the essence of what science is, and what we as science teachers want our students to do.

Connection to Instruction: Poems are a great device to help students memorize the material that is rote in nature. This book is simple enough in vocabulary to not pose problems, yet is deep enough to begin to convey basic concepts.

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • I would have my students write their own poetry after reading this book. It certainly could inspire them, and I would have them pick a topic of their own interest.

Uploaded By Chavon Phelps

Science Teachers Take Themselves Too Seriously

By Stefanie Valenti

Oh great, double science in three and four
I just can't take it anymore!
This subject is such a bore
Oh how embarrassing, I'm starting to snore!
Molecules, electricity, minerals and space,
When I hear these words I scrunch up my face,
Science is put there to pass people's time,
So they can act important and earn a dime.
There's so many things we don't need to know,
So why not just sit back and go with the flow?
Don't get me wrong, if it interests you
Then study it all day and all night too.
But if you force us to tediously study it,
You can't complain when we don't care a bit.
Quite frankly I couldn't care less how plants eat
So I just sit here, rocking my feet.
The Earth itself knows how to run,
So why must we always jump the gun,
And assume there's things we need to know...
And make school hours go so slow.
The Earth will continue to spin and rotate,
Whether or not we study it in Year 8.
What does it matter about the Earth's core?
When all you want to do is get out of the door?
I'd rather learn about something interesting
Like poetry, drama or how to sing . . .
But as I sit and stare out the window,
At the little girl sneezing down below,
I realise she is suffering from the flu -
She could use an antibiotic or two!
I guess some things we just need to know
To keep this world up and on the go.
Take penicillin; it would not exist
If it weren't for Fleming, the scientist.
Here comes Mrs Bowern, arriving in her car.
I wonder if she lives close by the school, or far?
It's because of science we have this machine -
I guess I've been really quite mean
Science gave us TV's and hair dryers,
It even gave us the equipment to put out fires!
So in the end I've come to see,
The many ways science has helped me.
Maybe Science doesn't take itself too seriously -
It's the teachers who teach it that make us bored,
Learning about chemicals, rockets and space
Really shouldn't make me scrunch up my face.
Perhaps the teacher should liven the pace
Without the white jacket and sterile lab,
Who knows . . . Science could even be quite FAB!

This poem is about a student’s view on why she hates science. she talks about all the things she would rather be doing than learning science. In the end she realizes that science is a useful subject, and maybe the teacher’s delivery is what is making her not relate to the material.

Favorite Part
“Learning about chemicals, rockets and space
Really shouldn't make me scrunch up my face.
Perhaps the teacher should liven the pace
Without the white jacket and sterile lab,
Who knows . . . Science could even be quite FAB!” - I related to this part of the poem, because it reiterates a lot of what we emphasize in the MST program. Dewey argues that student interest drives student motivation and I thought it was cool that a student came up with the same argument.

Connection to Instruction/Literacy Strategy
I would use this poem throughout my class. I would probably have it on the walls as a poster to help students understand the importance of science. I may also use it as a dialogue starter in the beginning of the school year when trying to create a classroom community of inquiry.

Picture Book

Q is for Quark

Posted by Rachel
Q is for Quark by David M. Schwartz

Summary: Q is for Quark contains an alphabetically-driven set of explanations for assorted biology, chemistry, earth science and physics concepts from A is for Atom to F is for Fault (as in earthquakes) to K is for Kitchen (promoted as a great site for home experiments—one explained under K in detail, others found throughout the book) to M is for Music (and all those vibrations) to T is for Think (and the scientific method). Cross-references to various topics occur—i.e. from Quark back to Atom, or from Clone to DNA to Y Chromosome, but the choice of what is covered is clearly dictated by the interest of the author between the four major categories and is fairly random, though fairly well-distributed.
While several definitions start to read like a textbook, the humor that is regularly interjected keeps the topics from becoming intellectually deadly. Also, the margins are packed with numerous illustrations and silly comments which minimize the textbook ‘feel,’ add more humor, and add a visual aid for understanding concepts. The depth of explanations the material offers and their application to biology, chemistry, earth science and physics is likely to keep the interest of readers through high school.

Favorite Part: (p. 9, under B is for Black Hole)
"When the most massive stars of all collapse, their gravitational pull becomes so tremendous that nothing can escape them, not even light. (See L is for Light.) Thus they are invisible, and are called black holes. Anything and everything that comes near a black hole--gas, dust, astronauts--gets sucked in, never to be seen again. A black hole is not a good vacation destination."

Connection to Instruction/Use of Literacy Strategies: Selections from this could be used as a pre-reading exercise before delving into a textbook, or as a way of activating background material humorously before starting a unit—though the limited scope of topics requires the teacher to be familiar with what topics the book covers. The illustrations used to explain concepts, while humorous, seem accurate and would likely offer students a different perspective from their textbooks.

From Seed to Plant

Posted by: Mark
Gibbons, G. (2005). From Seed To Plant. New York: Farrar, Holiday House

Summary: This is a great picture book with some descriptive text on the drawings and 5-20 word descriptions at the bottom of the page. The book describes how seeds and plants grow. It would be good for an introduction to plants and seeds for 9 year olds but includes drawings of the parts of a flower, a seed and enough other items to make reading it interesting for up to 13year olds.

Favorite Part: A description of how seeds are dispersed.

Connection to Instruction: This book would connect well to a unit on plants and seeds.

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • This is a simple book that appeals to the visual learner.
  • The book could be used for the creation of poster for summaries.

Hello, Ocean

Posted by: Chris G.
Munoz, P. (2001). Hello, Ocean. Charlesbridge Press, Watertown, MA.
Summary: This book is a story of how a young girl interacts and loves the ocean and shore. She vividly describes what she sees, hears and smells though similes and metaphors.
Favorite Part: I hear the ocean, a lion’s roar, crashing rumors toward the shore.” The visualization hear can help students see how their observations and opinions help to build knowledge about a certain event.
Connection to Instruction: Observation is a major component of this Unit and this picture book shows how powerful observations can be in describing a situation or landscape.
Literacy Strategy: This book would be read as a class and then students would generate their own observations of oceans.

Curious George at the Aquarium

Posted by: Rick
Anderson, R.P. (2007). Curios George at the Aquarium. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Curious George and the man with the yellow hat go to the aquarium. Our favorite troublesome monkey meets lots of new friends and gets into lots of new troubles.
Connection to Instruction:
I would use this in a general science middle school classroom, when we begin talking about different ecosystems. This could show different life forms that live in an aquatic ecosystem.
Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • Thinkmarks – I would have the students list a couple of the animals found within the book. As well as any questions to the author about why he picked the animals he did.

Trade Fiction or Nonfiction

Gang Leader for a Day

Posted by Rick
Venkatesh, S. (2008). Gang Leader for a Day. New York: The Penguin Press
Sudhir a.k.a. “The Professor” was a first year graduate student at the University of Chicago, trying to get some field experience with sociology. Sudhir grew up in a well-to-do neighborhood in California, and was now next to the ghettos of Chicago. At orientation he was told to cross a certain street because then you enter the ghetto. He went over anyway. He wanted real life test subjects, he didn’t want to study survey data.
Sudhir traveled to the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ To the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the oldest and worst projects in Chicago. He started to ask people how it felt to be poor and black. Needless to say he didn’t get much help. He eventually met a young ‘entrepreneur,’ a leader of a local sect of the Black Knights gang named J.T. Over the next ten years Sudhir hangs out with J.T. and the Black Knights as J.T. climbs the hierarchy of the gang. Along the way he learns about all the different kinds of hustling done within the gang as well as the projects. He sees how the cops will help mediate disputes between gangs instead of arresting the leadership. Until he comes to the realization that he could be held accountable for anything that he sees and/or hears while with the Black Knights.
Favorite Part:
Page 186 –
“Four years deep into my research, it came to my attention that I might get into a lot of trouble if I kept doing what I’d been doing.
During a casual conversation with a couple of my professors, in which I apprised them of how J.T.’s gang went about planning a drive-by shooting—they often sent a young woman to surreptiously cozy up to the rival gang and learn enough information to prepare a surprise attack—my professors duly apprised me that I needed to consult a lawyer. Apparently the research I was doing lay a bit out of bounds of the typical academic research.”
Connection to Instruction:
I would use this in a general science middle school classroom, while talking about the different types of scientists there are. Sudhir is a sociologist that researches the different culture that is an inner-city ghetto and gang life.
Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • 3●2●1 so that the students can relate to what Sudhir goes threw.

The World is Flat

Posted by: Mark
Friedman, T. (2005). The World Is Flat. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Summary: This book provides us with an understanding of globalization and how we got here. Numerous interesting business and technology stories are weaved together to provide an understanding of the interactions. In the last several chapters of the book Friedman changes the tome of the book and pleads for a compassionate new business world.

Favorite Part: This passage begins with Friedman’s tour of a school in India for children of the untouchables. He was talking with the children and asked them what they wanted to be. “These were eight year old Indian kids whose parents were untouchables. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. Their answers were as follows: ‘an astronaut,’ ‘a doctor,’ ‘a pediatrician,’ ‘a poetess,’ ‘physics and chemistry,’ ‘a scientist and an astronaut,’ ‘a surgeon,’ ‘a detective,’ ‘an author.’
All dreams in action—not martyrs in waiting” (p. 468).

Connection to Instruction: As we learn digital illiteracies we need to
Understand how the technologies were developed and how they interact.

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • This is a long book. I would suggest an outline of the chapters.
  • A graphic organizer would also be a great way to show the interactions of various technologies.

Mistakes That Worked: 40 Familiar Inventions and How They Came to Be

Posted by: Chris G.
Jones, C.F. (1991) Mistakes That Worked: 40 Familiar Inventions and How They Came to Be. Doubleday, New York.
Summary: This book provides an account of how some commonly used items were actually discovered or invented by mistake. Examples include scotchguard, potato chips and penicillin.
Favorite Part: The section on the slinky is of particular instance. This is the case since most of my students will know what a slinky is they would be surprised to know that it was invented by accident.
Connection to Instruction: Science is not always a step-by-step process. Sometimes you must deviate from the plan to explore other pathways. This may even result in new experiments or discoveries that would have otherwise been overlooked.
Literacy Strategy: I would use sections of this book to prime students before they explore how traditional texts describe the “scientific method.”


Source: Butler, Octavia. 1988 Kindred. Beacon Press
Uploaded by Chavon Phelps
Kindred is a science fiction novel about an African American woman who travels back and forth through time in the Antebellum South.

Favorite Part
I do not have a favorite part of this novel. I loved that the hero was a woman of color and that the author was also a woman who predominantly writes science fiction novels. I remember reading this in 10th grade and thinking that it was unlike my idea of a science fiction novel.

Connection to Instruction
I think this can be used as an interdisciplinary reading. It was a common reading when I was in high school. If it is still being taught it would be ideal to implement it in some way in a science class as well

Literary Strategy

Anticipation Guide


Science Times - NY Times

Posted by Rachel
Hard copy: every Tuesday
or anytime! (click on "Science" in the left-hand column)

Summary: A tremendous resource of current events in the science world. The online site has a "Browse Science Topics" menu with dozens of topics--click one and you have access to hundreds of related archived articles--Carbon dating, Chemistry, Frogs, Fungi, Neutrinos, Neanderthal Man. Special features can be found in hard copy (the local library shelves several weeks of editions at a time) or online--Book reviews, Personal Health, Global Health, Vital Signs, Q&A (random questions)--with articles of varying length. Podcasts of science topics are also available online.

Favorite part: Lengthy, in-depth articles not found in the local newspaper about an extensive variety of current science-related topics from the health benefits of meditation to the Universe Unexplained.

Connection to Instruction: These are current topics the students are likely to be familiar with and can bring relevance to their classroom work. Many articles are short, but informative, and can be used to generate classroom discussions.

Use of Literary Strategies: A great opportunity to read aloud to students--modeling 'newspaper' reading. Short articles can expand lessons, activate background knowledge, or can be used to demonstrate pre-, during, and post reading strategies before diving into a textbook.

Oil Article - National Geographic

Posted by: Mark
(2008, Jan. –Feb.). National Geographic From Explorer.

Summary: This magazine contains articles for students in general science for kids 10 to 14 years old. The article on oil discusses the where oil comes from, how we use it to make things and provide energy for our power or cars and heat our houses. The impact of oil on our ecology are also discussed.

Favorite Part: Page 16 –
“Worldwide, people use more than 80 million barrels of oil a day. Each barrel is equal to 42 large milk jugs, That’s 3360,000,000 jugs a day.”

Connection to Instruction: This quote could be used to visualize how much oil we use. It could then be used to start a discussion on the impacts of oil on our ecology.

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • I would suggest using a anticipation guide for this text.
  • For enabling students understanding of the vocabulary in this article I would suggest word sort.

Time Magazine

Uploaded by Chavon Phelps

Summary- time magazine addresses current events in the United States and throughout the world.

Favorite Part- I am a fan of the special editions.

Connection to Instruction- I would use this to emphasize the importance of staying current on world events. I think it will also be a useful tool in developing student empathy for other cultures, as well as critical thinking. Time magazine always keeps up with current events in science. Recent issues have focused on the Iceland Volcano, the Gulf oil spill, the recent creation of manmade DNA, etc.

Literary Strategy
Because the articles in time may require a higher level of reading I would incorporate lots of group strategies such as jigsaw. As I get better at think aloud, I think it would be a useful tool for a reading of this difficulty.

Runaway Gulf Oil...Runaway gulf oil well spewing far more oil than initially thought. (2010, May 27). The Miami Herald. Retrieved June 3, 2010 from
Summary: A Miami Herald article about the ongoing oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It explains how scientists and other officials are using observations to estimate the severity of the spill.
Favorite Part:Three groups of researchers, assembled by the government after independent observers viewing BP video of the leaking well openly disputed the 5,000-barrel figure, reached similar conclusions that the well was spewing 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day — 504,000 to 1.05 million gallons a day.” In addition to learning more about how scientists use observation in their work, students can also see from this excerpt that there is disagreement between scientists and BP officials, prompting further investigation. Disagreement is a fundamental part of science.
Connection to Instruction: The “right” answer may not always be agreed upon. This is evident in the work being done around the BP oil spill. As a result of disagreement and the teamwork of multiple parties, a more accurate answer or solution can be developed. This establishes a real world example of how science incorporates teamwork and disagreement to further our understandings.
Literacy Strategy: Prior to reading the article, students are asked to come up with 5 words or phrases they associate with oil spills. Then as small groups they compare their word lists and come up with 3 to share to the class.

Other Web Resources

Environmental Literacy Council

Posted by Rachel</span>

Summary: A site dedicated to improving K-12 knowledge of issues related to the environment. Site 'chapters' include: Air and Climate, Land, Water, Ecosystems, Energy, Food, Environment and Society.

Favorite Part: "The rise of the automobile, the manufacture and distribution of affordable consumer products, mass access to air travel, and advances in healthcare—doubling the average life expectancy in just 100 years—are just a few of the many benefits petroleum has helped bring developed society" (from Petroleum, under Energy)

Connection to Instruction: I like the historical backgrounds the different sections provide--puts scientific information into context that students might more easily relate to. In addition to background informative text, end of article posts links to additional recommended resources, data and maps, and a section “For the Classroom” which has grade-identified lesson plans for teachers that delineate the lesson’s learning objectives and standards addressed.

Use of Literacy Strategies: Great for activating background knowledge before starting a new subject.
May provide useful source material for practicing reading strategies such as Read-Aloud.

Science News for Kids

Posted by: Chris
Science News for Kids Website

Summary: This is a fantastic website offering current articles for students in grade levels K-12. All topics of science are covered, including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and even some of the pseudosciences.

Favorite Part: The website has great pictures and many links for further reading should students find a topic interesting (inquiry!). There is also a section for games and puzzles that are completely science based. There is also an RSS link for anybody using a reader in their class, keeping their students up to date with new information.

Connection to Instruction: LIMITLESS!!! This site has information on pretty much any topic you cover in your classes. With the links to other sites, as well, you can access many other pieces of information on any given topic.

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • Because of the many articles available to students, any pre-, during-, or post- reading activity would be appropriate. I think that a very effective tool to use with this website would be a think-aloud.

"What is science?"

Understanding Science. University of California Museum of Paleontology. 3 June 2010 <>
Summary: A UC Berkeley webpage that outlines the major tenets of science. This includes what science is, how it works, why it is important etc.
Favorite Part: “Science is ongoing. Science is continually refining and expanding our knowledge of the universe, and as it does, it leads to new questions for future investigation. Science will never be "finished." My students tend to think that science is about finding the right answer and that that is the end of it. This
statement helps lend some strength to the opposing viewpoint that I try to relay to the students.
Connection to Instruction: This webpage (and other linked pages) provide a brief summary of what science is that could serve to unify Nature of Science ideas at the end of the Unit or to introduce them.
Literacy Strategy: Students will construct a KWHL about science before, during and after exploration of the readings on this and other pages. Misconceptions about science can be voiced and students can hopefully address these and correct them

PBS Nova online

Uploaded by Chavon Phelps

Summary- this website brings the NOVA science series to the web. These videos address numerous science topics in fun but educational ways.

Favorite Part- the website has a tool for teacher resources that includes ways to incorporate these videos into your classroom complete with lesson plans.

Connection to Instruction- technology integration into the classroom

Literary Strategy- I would use these videos as pre-reading tools to create opportunities for background knowledge.